At tonight’s National Football League Players’ Association tailgate stop at The Waterworks in Philadelphia, one thing seemed to be evident. The NFLPA does not want a lockout. Unfortunately, something else was also clear to the collection of current Eagles, former NFL players, and fans in attendance: it may be inevitable if some sort of compromise doesn’t happen soon.
Here are the facts:
1) According to Forbes Magazine, NFL owners saw the average value of a franchise drop down from $1.04 billion to 1.02 billion this past year. While that may not seem like much of a decrease when we’re talking about an almost unfathomable amount of greenbacks, NFL owners remain in the business of making money. After all, why make the time and the sizable investment to do so if you’re not going to yield a profitable return? The owners feel that the players saw too significant a pay increase in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement and want to make up for it with a proposed decrease in the average salary and the extension of the schedule from the current 16 games to 18.
2) The proposed schedule increase (in case you were curious) does not include an extra two games pay but rather stretches the player’s salary out over said two games. This means more checks but no increase in the player’s individual salary. In other words, no raise. The schedule adds the extra two regular season games by cutting two from the 4-game preseason slate for each team. It makes the league’s stance on safety and the need to protect its players seem somewhat hypocritical since it doesn’t want to shell out the money for salaries/ additional healthcare that the extra games would almost certainly require.
3) NFL Teams will receive a guaranteed $1 billion each year due to a deal with DirecTV that begins next season and runs through 2014. Players argue that since they don’t see any of that money then the NFL should rethink the idea of having to split the industry’s $8 billion dollar revenue. Allow me to welcome you to the piece of the situation that gets a little hairy. A USAtoday.com article states that the league’s players receive approximately 60 percent of the league’s $8 billion in revenue. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said tonight that the number is closer to 50. Who do we believe?
4) As per a press release from early tonight, both the league and the NFLPA have agreed to extend the deadline for the players union to file a collusion case. Initially, that deadline was supposed to be the middle of this week. A collusion case would accuse NFL teams of a joint conspiracy to improperly restrict player salaries last season. The numbers aren’t known when it comes to how many teams participated, how many players were affected, and what kind of monetary damages the case would seek. The key here is that no case has been filed and that the owners don’t want it to filed. If it does eventually happen then the possibility of an agreement seems like a nowhere road and relations between the players union and the league’s owners could get ugly in a hurry.
The vibe I got tonight at the event is that no one wants to see this happen but it may be inevitable. Players don’t want to see their salaries go down and at the same time the owners believe they need to make up for what they lost in the past year. In talking to Winston Justice and Ellis Hobbs, the players find the possibility of an 18 game schedule unrealistic and ridiculous unless owners are willing to pony up the cash.
I see both sides of the situation which of course makes it tough to find a scapegoat for why this is happening. Players don’t want things to change and if they do then they want compensation for those changes. Owners feel the need to make up for their losses from the last year with a couple of extra games to boost their revenue. Either way, the idea might soon start setting in for a lot of NFL fans that they may have to find a different way to spend their Sundays next fall. To quote Dr. Seuss: the grinch did not like it. He did not like it one bit.